After planning several times and procrastinating, I finally got to Ghana last month…by road.
I had made several enquiries from my friends who have been to Ghana by road and I was told it was about 10 hours…WRONG! The journey was like 45 hours!!! No, just joking. It was longer than expected though, like 15 hours (or more).
There are several private mass transit buses that depart Lagos for Accra daily. You have the option of choosing from Efex Executive, ABC coach West Africa, Cross Country and some other ones. I decided to go Accra with ABC coach West Africa (not the best option in my opinion). We departed Amuwo Odofin park at about 8:35 am with a 7am ticket and as expected with most mass transport systems in Nigeria, we had a quick church service (the pastor even collected offering) just before we left the park. The coach attendant made announcements informing us (passengers) about the border stops and conveniences and wished us a safe trip to Accra. The TV then came on afterwards-Nollywood to the rescue.
After about an hour drive, another attendant went round collecting passports. He then served us breakfast of Jollof Rice and Chicken. The rice had a funny brownish colour and I was scared to eat it at first but I had to anyway. I was dead hungry!
The drive to Seme border took about 3 hours. We had immigration come into the coach to check if anything suspicious had been hidden in the bus. Bureau de Change traders came into the bus offering to exchange our Nairas to CFA Franc and Cedis as well. The last time I was at the border was a little over 10 years ago. I had accompanied my Dad with his tour group from Japan and we came to drop them off. They were heading for Cotonou, their next stop on their West African tour and my dad had arranged for my sister and I too to visit an Aunt in Cotonou.
The border had very limited activity with just a few traders selling water and drinks on the Nigerian side. We were at seme border for almost 2 hours before continuing the drive on to the next stop, Hilla Condji.
The road after Cotonou (around Quidah) was rough so it slowed the journey. The roads were under construction giving room for enough dust to penetrate into the coach, then our nostrils. Total hours spent within Benin republic amounted to 4 hours before arriving at Hilla Condji. The border was much more packed with traders compared to Seme border. They had all sorts in store: sweet potatoes, fan yogo, fried plantain, roasted corn, apples, grapes, biscuits…We alighted the coach to pass through the immigration offices. Our temperatures were checked before we were let through to Togo. Apparently, some people are still scared of Ebola even when they never had any record of it and Nigeria had been declared Ebola free. I was drawn to the roasted corn I saw on when I got to Togo so I approached the woman selling and asked if she’d collect Naira. Her response was positive and off I was with my roasted corn strolling down to the bus.
The coach had issues after about 5 minutes drive from Hilla Condji. The driver said the clutch had issues so we stopped to get it fixed. I needed to use the convenience but I’d been scared to use the one on the coach so I seized the opportunity to find myself one. There was a man manning a small bar beside the road and off I was to meet him. My sister was convinced he wouldn’t understand any English because some of our co-passengers had been conversing with him trying to buy some water but I told her to let me give it a try. I was convinced he would at least understand the word “piss”. I was right!
The clutch was finally repaired after about an hour and we continued the journey. By that time, I was already composing some of the words I’ll use when I see my friend who had informed me that they arrived Accra in broad daylight (if you’re reading this post, you know yourself). The drive within Togo was short-we arrived Lomé in an hour. The city is just next to Aflao border and is lined by the beach. I liked the beach scene, it was rough yet calm. As expected, the border was filled with traders but they sold mostly fabrics unlike the ones at Hilla Condji.
The coach attendant told us to we had to carry our bags to immigration office to be checked. I asked him how far Accra was from Aflao.
“We still have about 5 hours.”
Jesus Christ! I wanted to die!!! We had already exhausted 12 hours on the road and we still had 5 more to go!! At that point, I sealed my fate and stopped counting the hours we had left. All I knew was I was in Ghana and I would be sleeping on a mattress tonight no matter what happens. Our Passports were returned to us ad I opened it to see how many stamps I had on it. It was like a motif. You can literally use it as a sample to create a fabric.
Now the requirement for this journey as I haven’t mentioned is a valid Passport or an Identification card but there a particular man, a co-passenger who thought it was wise enough to travel without either and he was solely responsible for most of the delays. How inconsiderate! I mean who travels without any form of identification? As expected, he gave excuses like being advised by the transport company he could do so. It’ll only cost him an extra fee on the usual transport fare. But to his disappointment, he was settle immigration and officials at every border/stop.
I got a call from the hostel I had booked confirming if we would still be staying there and I told them we were already in Ghana. Getting to Tema, a couple of passengers alighted and the person sitting next to my sister said Accra was still about 3 hours. He was wrong and we arrived Accra in less than 2 hours. The final stop as at Caprice close to Circle and we got a taxi to take us to Ako Adjei where we would be staying and I’ll be sleeping on mattress like I had in mind that night.